HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Putting her undefeated mark on the line, Tonalist’s Shape proved too tough for her competition, taking them from flags fall to that’s all in Saturday’s $200,000 Davona Dale Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park.
Breaking alertly from the far outside post 9 under Tyler Gaffalione as the 2/1 second choice, Tonalist’s Shape hit the front end but didn’t get an easy lead. Bayerness, Addilyn, and the 3/5 favorite Spice Is Nice all applied pressure while Tonalist’s Shape posted opening fractions of :23.84, :46.93, and 1:11.26.
Repelling all bids as she straightened for home, Tonalist’s Shape began putting daylight between herself and her foes. Spice Is Nice could only watch as the pacesetter held sway before crossing 1 1/4 lengths ahead.
Trained by Saffie Joseph, Jr., Tonalist’s Shape completed the mile-long event over the fast main track in a final time of 1:36.77.
“I didn’t really expect to be in front, but she broke so sharp and nobody really wanted the lead, so I went ahead and took it,” Gaffalione said. “She was cruising along nicely. I know she wants to run all day, so I wasn’t afraid to pull the trigger a little early, and she’s just a really nice filly. She’s got a lot of class to her and I’m so happy for Saffie and his team. They’re unbelievable people and they’ve been supportive of me throughout my career, so I’m just ecstatic for them.”
While no match for the winner, Spice Is Nice was well-clear of the remaining runners. Dream Marie took third, 2 3/4 lengths behind the bettors’ choice and 7 1/2 lengths better than Reluctant Bride and Addilyn, who took fourth and fifth, respectively.
Emily’s Oasis, Bayerness, Nikki and Papa, and Chart completed the order of finish.
The Davona Dale is part of the Road to the 2020 Kentucky Oaks prep race season. Tonalist’s Shape earned 50 points for the win, with Spice Is Nice receiving 20 for second, Dream Marie 10 for third, and Reluctant Bride 5 for fourth.
Tonalist’s Shape’s win extended her unbeaten streak to five, including the local Forward Gal Stakes (G3) here last time out. The 3-year-old daughter of Tonalist has now earned $310,630 for co-owners Slam Dunk Racing, Doug Branham, and Legacy Ranch.
“In my dearest dreams, I didn’t expect her to be on the lead,” said Joseph, Jr. “I told Tyler, ‘Break her out of there and use her to get position.” I thought she’d be fourth or fifth. I didn’t expect her to be on the lead. When she got to the lead, I’m happy because I know she stays. She had to make a premature move because the Chart was coming up, but she kicked away.”
Tonalist’s Shape returned $6.20 to win, $2.60 to place, and $2.20 to show. Spice Is Nice brought back $2.40 to place and $2.10 to show, while Dream Marie paid $5 to show.